September 3, 2009

I am just imagining this hurricane, this can’t really be happening

Last night we were in the middle of a hurricane that had been downgraded to Category 1. Now that it was just a minor player and no longer the Category 3 or 4 that it began life as, it was as if it didn’t exist with the weather service. Last night’s trajectory still showed it passing along the Pacific coast completely skirting us, while in fact the satellite photos showed it had shifted coasts and was passing right directly over us here on the Sea of Cortez. We got up at 3 am Wednesday morning to start mopping. While Esperando and I were busy shop vaccing and mopping, the trees spun and flopped, the indoor feral cats hid and still haven’t come out, doors and windows thumped and bucked like wild animals against the wind, the air rumbled, the walls and roof leaked in places and finally all over, and water came in under the doors.

For awhile in the morning there was a long break of light wind and passing clouds when we ran errands, had a very early lunch then went back to bed for a while. Esperando periodically called his co-worker who lives in Loreto 3 hours south for status reports so we could try to figure out what was coming our way. They were totally inundated in a leaky house that was being buffeted by strong winds. At 2:30pm the wind and the rain started to intensify here and by 4pm I was sure the bedroom doors were going to burst open, they would bow inward an incredible 3 inches before snapping back into place. I finally sent Esperando off in the rain up to Casa Abeja to retrieve his electric screwdriver so we could screw the doors to the frames.

At 5pm Esperando started making a pizza while I kept the shop vac running, alternating every 5 minutes between our bedroom and the kitchen. The power died shortly after the pizza came out of the oven, somebody’s roof that was blown loose knocked the lines down just behind us. The end of electricity meant no more shop vac, and our enthusiasm for mopping expired shortly thereafter as we had been mopping all day. Then the water came in under the doors of the bedroom and kitchen and covered the floor about an inch deep in both places, merged in the hallway, then slowly began to advance across the dining room, then dribbled and pooled down the stairs into the foyer. We watched it advance as we sat and drank wine on the couch in the sitting area (up a flight of stairs on the opposite side of the foyer) and listened to the wind rave like a beast and the water drip inside. In the hallway where the guest bedrooms are located, the ceiling leaked sufficiently to inundate the floor. Water-filled blisters of paint, would advance down the wall expanding to 5-inches in diameter, before they would pop open adding more water to the floor as well as chunks of paint residue. About 9pm we finally slogged down the hall to spend the evening in the driest one of the guest rooms, no fan, no air conditioning, but the window open for the breeze that emitted little spits of water through the screen onto our prone bodies.

This morning we walked downtown to discover that nothing was left of the main road. Several large bulldozers were running trying to re-establish some semblance thereof. Tons of dirt, rocks and debris have been washed down from the north-south road to the bottom of the east-west road to bury it the major intersection with the highway in cubic yards of mud and rock or undercut it, leaving behind 10 foot deep ponds filled with water here and there. Everyone was out walking around with muddy shoes looking to see what had happened. Tin roofs were blown off, power lines down, part of the Eiffel church steeple ripped away, cars and trucks had been washed down the road and in some instances tumbled and buried in muck. Mud everywhere, everywhere. One of the unoccupied sailboats in the harbor broke loose of its moorings during the night and punched a hole in her side. This storm so much more severe than the one we experienced last year, I am glad it was not any stronger, Other than totally flattening the town, which a Category 2 would probably have done, I can’t imagine how the damage could have been any more severe. Luckily for us the mine got a generator up and running for the guesthouse so we now have running water, fans and an oven.

The tree that the fire department chopped back in our yard yesterday is still standing. Our antique French house was saved from obliteration when the security guard realized a big tree in the backyard of the guesthouse was going to fall on its roof. The mining security crew came, climbed up that tree that was being tossed around with dangerous high winds, and chopped a bunch of huge limbs off which saved both our house and the tree. The guesthouse also lost two of its big mango trees, and a bunch of smaller trees. A neighbor lady lost two really big old trees, ripped out by the roots. My guess is these trees were probably planted about 75 years ago and this storm is the 100 years’ storm. I don’t believe Santa Rosalia was ever the center of a storm like this before.

It is now 5:30pm a full day later, Thursday. As for the weather, it is still overcast and spitting rain on and off, breezy. The sea is gray and leaden, churned up with dirt. Our internet service is down so we have no way to know, but I believe the storm has stalled out over us and is just there until it spins itself dry.

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